Obama adminisration

Yes, there’s a difference between “endangered” and “threatened” species

Federal district court tells FWS its discretion to choose the less protected designation has limits

A recent ruling from the federal District Court in DC provides an important  lesson that the US Fish and Wildlife Service would do well to heed: the agency has limited discretion to find that species are threatened rather than endangered. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), species can be listed as either endangered (“in danger …


When is unoccupied habitat “critical”?

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the critical habitat designation for the dusky gopher frog

Controversy and litigation have been pervasive since adoption of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, but the Supreme Court has been a relatively minor player in the law’s development. By my count, the Court so far has only addressed the substantive merits of an ESA claim three times (in TVA v Hill, 437 US 153 …


Yes, there’s some actual good environmental news this week

Approval of regional ocean management plans, California planning for gray wolf return provide grounds for hope

It’s not exactly been the best of weeks for those of us committed to environmental protection, and it doesn’t look like the best of years coming up. But there is some good news, even in these difficult times. Two items in particular have helped lift the gloom for me this week. First, the National Ocean …


Administration delays next step on offshore drilling plan

Finally, some news about offshore oil drilling that contains no nasty surprises. The Obama administration has announced that it will delay public meetings on the plan for expanded offshore drilling it unveiled shortly before the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The planned “scoping” meetings, which had originally been announced for June or July in  Alaska, the south …


Gulf oil spill update

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig rig explosion was bound to put some pressure on the Obama administration to renounce the plan it announced just three weeks earlier to open new areas to offshore drilling. Today, the President ordered Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to report on how to reduce the risk of oil spills from offshore …


Interior team slowly takes shape

President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar have begun to trickle out the new leadership team for the Interior Department. So far, the team is heavy on legal talent. Like Secretary Salazar, the first three nominees to subordinate positions all hold JDs. David Hayes was nominated late last month to be Deputy Secretary, the number two …